The Pandemic and I (14) – when Covid-19 comes looking for a fight…

…It gets a fight

It’s been two weeks since I posted about how we discovered a positive case of Covid-19 at my work place, and how that figure went from one to seven cases in the space of a week. I was assigned to work on a four-person Covid team (a nurse, two nurse assistants, and a person to carry out disinfection).

Here is a broad breakdown of what happened when Covid-19 came to our place looking for a fight:

Week 1 

  • Discovery of our first case via a routine hospital admission of an asymptomatic resident who tested positive on admission.
  • We go into immediate lockdown; residents remain in rooms, all visiting stopped; rapid testing undertaken – a weekly testing regime initiated.
  • Three other residents confirmed positive. All staff negative.
  • Two Covid teams assembled to work with the positive cases.
  • Positive cases = four residents, zero staff.

Week 2

  • Three more residents confirmed positive.
  • Two become seriously ill and are admitted to hospital for critical care.
  • Three staff test positive. Note: these aren’t any staff assigned to the Covid teams.
  • Four more residents confirmed positive.
  • Positive cases = eleven residents, three staff.

Week 3

  • The two seriously ill residents who were admitted to hospital both die.
  • The resident who was originally found to be infected returns from hospital negative.
  • No other residents return as positive in latest tests.
  • No further staff return as positive.
  • Three residents who were previously positive now return as negative.
  • Positive cases = five residents, three staff.

Week 4 (current)

  • A further resident previously positive, returns as negative.
  • No other residents or staff confirmed positive.
  • Positive cases = four residents, three staff.

The above breakdown is clinical and bereft of any emotion. But to say emotions were absent during this period is wrong. Fear; anxiety; stress; mental and physical exhaustion; sadness; loss… just some of the feelings known to staff, residents, and their families.

When I learned of the two residents who died I had to push my emotions to one side in order to carry on working. In private I cried. Seeing someone, one week, who is fit and healthy, then the week after struck in bed and unable to respond properly, eat and drink, or breathe without oxygen, is just hard.

By contrast, seeing some of the infected residents become negative and make a recovery is cause for jubilation. Maximum respect for those who were able to kick the ass of our dear Covid-19 when it came knocking at the door. Let me tell you that three of the cases who recovered had underlying health conditions, and one was more than a 100 years old. Imagine being that old, and beating Covid? Respect.

I’m off the Covid team now for the moment and back to my normal duties – pending no more new cases. And if our few remaining positives can come back soon as negative, then we can say we successfully fought back with only small losses and fatigue.

I don’t want to use any ‘war terminology’ to describe how we must face Covid-19 (especially on the day I’m posting here, the eleventh of November), but in some ways it’s unavoidable, and you do feel like you’re battling an enemy, and even if you manage to claim some small victories there is the understanding that further battles might occur.

For me personally, working on a Covid team has been draining and emotional, but not without rewards in terms of expanding my experience and my sense of duty as a health care worker. Working with other care staff has forged solidarities. Just before going back to my regular duties, I was assigned to work a shift with a laboratory nurse for the testing. Something I would never have imagined doing before.

Staying upbeat? 

Regular readers will know one of my themes is to stay upbeat and offer a little ‘Pandemic Gallows Humour’ to help take the edge off things. Am I upbeat right now? You betcha! Despite our losses, we’re fighting back, we’re on track, like a mean machine Big Trak!

Upbeat USA!

During our ordeals at work came the long and drawn out presidential election results in America, which we saw on TV, and the news that Biden had won and that a brighter future might be in store! It caused some cheering in our small part of France I can tell you 🙂

Upbeat archiving!

On my two days off I decompressed by archiving music for a change and not vintage images. It was for a psychedelic hard rock band I played with in the mid-90s. Found a whole bunch of old cassettes we recorded live on, mostly jams, rough around the edges, but cool to hear again. I bought a cassette to MP3 converter, and… ah… went back in time. Beautiful.

Zig Yell Seed flyer. Collage by Ford.

Then there is the upbeating matter of chocolate

Just like in the last lockdown at work, the residents’ families are sending in parcels of delicious treats to help keep us going.

Good job!

A popular English expression heard among my French colleagues (aside from “What the fuck!”) is…

“Good job!”

Job par Mucha 1896

Stay safe and healthy out there everyone!

The final word goes to Wooof’s ongoing new feature …

TVTA Thinks:


Disclaimer. This report is meant to offer an overview of the fluid impact upon a care worker in the French medical system. No names of any persons or institutions are given. Some of the reportage here concerns decisions made at a French national level which is available to the public at any time. No breach of confidentiality or professional workplace standards is made or implied. Any health advice stated here is exactly the same as that given by the World Health Organization public advice pages 


 

The Pandemic and I (13) – positive cases and a new lockdown

President Macron of France has just announced we are going into our second lockdown of this year.

It’s been 4 long months since my last ‘Covid’ report in June of this year when I wrote about how I was looking forward to a week off work and my first socially-distanced coffee at a café terrace following the lifting of national lockdown measures.

As a reminder, I work in a multi-disciplinary team at a private French medical retirement home for 80+ elderly people with a range of pathologies.

But back to the coffee on the terrace in June, and dare I say ‘happier times’… this was the pic back then:

Infection, hospital admission and death rate figures were down in June, and the holiday season was beginning in earnest. And for me back then at work, no positive cases for the residents or staff. Indeed, throughout all of my pandemic posts to that point, I was both proud and relieved to report no cases where I work.

And then after June? The figures in France continued to drop, and the holiday season went into full swing in the heavily touristic region I live in. And still, no cases at work.

Until now.

I’m sorry to report that since last week we now have 7 positive cases of Covid-19 among our current residents. No staff confirmed positive – we were tested the week prior and came back negative, but we still has to take a retest in light of the confirmation of cases.

I’m happy to report all staff again tested negative. To say I was anxious for myself and my colleagues is an understatement. Now I can only hope we stay virus free and offer the best for our residents who are sick, and keep the healthy ones healthy.

Two of the confirmed cases are residents on my unit. Working with these residents prior to their Covid state I was wearing my normal protective equipment of uniform, mask and gloves.

Like this:

Since last week I have been working like this:

Forgive me my selfies. I’m not a ‘selfie person’ and these are only to illustrate what a typical health care worker might have to do to protect themselves and others in a clinical environment with Covid cases.

Question: if all staff were tested the week before the discovery of Covid cases, and then retested the same week – and both time frame results came back negative, then who brought the infection in? Visitors… for who visiting frequencies and times had been increased over the latter part of summer? Outside agencies such as doctors, drug deliveries, maintenance, oxygen, medical equipment and food deliveries? Meh. Who can say.

My nostrils were smarting for ages when the doctor took my tests. A nose swab is no fun. Then there is the soreness to face and ears from having to wear the upgraded masks issued recently. And the heat and discomfort of having to wear all that protective clothing. But you know, I’ll happily put up with all of that if it means no more residents are infected and no staff return positive. To be honest, it’s been somewhat a miracle we’ve gone all year without a case up to now – like angels were looking down on us; or Rhiannon the Celtic Goddess was our protector; or Superman, Wonder Woman, Judge Anderson and Sister Night each had our backs …


One of the themes of my pandemic posts is to stay upbeat. So even if I one day soon catch our dear Covid-19 (and that likelihood is now a one-step-closer risk than ever it was before) you can be sure your humble editor will remain as chirpy as chirpy can be as he scrambles to stay alive and kicking.

Pandemic humour is not so different than gallows humour, non?

Let us go to a quick commercial break to see how your TVTA editor is doing during the pandemic…


TVTA editor current health status VS anticipated worst case scenario health status as seen in this handy flow picture chart!

Chart N°01

TVTA editor health status – as seen in September 2020 in a photoshoot for the Spira/Ford art project. Chart shows Ford healthy, relatively fit, and able to look at picture books and concentrate for short periods; can answer simple questions.


CHART N°02

Chart shows Ford haunted by Halloween-inspired hallucinations, attention span impaired by delusions of apocalyptic holocaust survival. Has pair of fake scissors sticking from head.


CHART N°03

Chart shows Ford and art-partner-in-crime Spira holding  a conference call to discuss their latest project; and proving once again that socially-distanced art collaborations can be undertaken successfully in a pandemic situation. Ford is in good spirits, though looking pale and more dishevelled than normal. Spira, too, is not looking his usual self… best get some medical attention, mate! PS – an email coming your way soon.


CHART N°4

Chart shows Ford in state of near death and unable to work efficiently and successfully as editor of TVTA [many would argue this has always been the case since TVTA began]. All editorial duties handed over to office cat Wooof – who himself is showing symptoms but bravely cat-soldiering on. Mrs Coldkettle the TVTA tea lady appointed as new chairperson of the board, and immediately orders new tea urn and designates scanning room 2 as a canteen for light refreshments.


CHART N°5

Chart shows Ford and now Wooof in advanced state of death and unable to work. Mrs Coldkettle becomes new editor of TVTA and announces the site will become a part pop-culture part cooking blog.


CHART N°6

Chart shows Ford and Wooof reanimated by means of advances in science and medical technology involving time travel, bowls of spaghetti, French cheese, tea and chocolate biscuits. Mrs Coldkettle hails their cure as a miracle of vintage advertising and announces the pair will soon be able to resume their TVTA duties [once replacement organs, skin and fur etc has been sourced]. Great news for TVTA’s vintage mates everywhere!!.

I’m LOL-ing now, yes, but later? Better to have LOL-ed and lost than not LOL-ed at all?
Non?

The temperature right here right now:

  • Last week – France extended its curfews as cases surged – 47 departments were under orders to stay at home between 9pm and 6am for six weeks because of rapid spreading of the virus across the country. These curfews affected 46 million people: two-thirds of the French population.
  • Tonight, 20 heures, France – President Macron announces a national lockdown for the duration of one month.
  • The second wave is not coming – it’s already here.
  • And still my next-door neighbour is insisting the entire thing is a hoax and a nefarious plan by world governments to control the population.
  • It’s a mad world…

Tang MAD offer. 1997.


  • Yes, it’s a mad world and 2020 has been one heck of a long and ever-changing year.
  • I hope all of you stay safe and healthy out there, and can navigate successfully through these extraordinary times we live in.
  • A final word… and a new feature here at TVTA which Wooof is calling “TVTA Thinks”

TVTA Thinks:

Disclaimer. This report is meant to offer an overview of the fluid impact upon a care worker in the French medical system. No names of any persons or institutions are given, and the reportage here concerns decisions made at a French national level which is available to the public at any time. No breach of confidentiality or professional workplace standards is made or implied. Any health advice stated here is exactly the same as that given by the World Health Organization public advice pages 


Skeleton images by Biodicac and Revealing Paws. Telephone images from Dawn of the Dead and Halloween.

The Pandemic and I (12) – movie masks, coffee, #BLM, Avaaz, and a very cool cat!

Don Post Dick Tracy and Gremlins 2 masks. 1990. US.

Greetings, vintage mates… a quick post at the end of my week off work before I return this weekend.

In my last post I wrote that during the French period of déconfinement I wanted to:

  • enjoy a week off, after leave restrictions were finally lifted at my work. Check ✅
  • enjoy a real coffee on an outdoor terrace. Check ✅
  • order material for my blog, now the postal service is back to business. Check ✅

Today’s post features some new mask additions to my print advert collection.

Nice to get some new stuff in at last 🙂

Don Post Gremlins masks. Starlog. 1984.

Don Post TMNT Raphael mask. Starlog. 1990.

Continue reading

The Pandemic and I (11) – an odyssey: living with the virus, plus finding stuff down the back of the sofa and behind the TV…

Odyssey 7 comic shop advert. 1987. UK.

Report – 2 June, 2020

Déconfinement

Today in France, 2 June, many of the remaining restrictions and social distancing measures are being lifted – known as déconfinement.

Here, the same as in many other countries, we will have to learn to live with Covid-19 as we go about our daily business as normally as possible in the most un-normal circumstances.

For many of us it will mean wearing a mask in a situation as mundane as entering a shop (many of us already are). Attending work, social, and study gatherings in limited numbers. Observing stricter hygiene measures than we are used to.

I’m in no rush to head to a restaurant, cinema, beach, park, or a busy shopping mall just yet – but I am looking forward to extending my social interaction with as much protection as I can get (mask, hand gels, respecting distances, avoiding large crowds, washing hands, not touching my face).

For me, it does mean a certain few treats:

Continue reading

The Pandemic and I (10) – Question: can a cash reward help lift your spirits? Featuring: a rant, Animal Crossing New Leaf, and a sweet Bella ciao!


Can a cash reward help lift your spirits?

Answer – YES! …

… but only partially – I need a break from this madness pandemic. Just five days off work in a row would be nice – a week would be marvellous. However, at work we still can’t take time off and every shift is short staffed. I am somewhat…

  • Exhausted.
  • At the brim of feeling burnt out.
  • I don’t have time nor energy for any of my artistic endeavours: poems, short stories… my beautiful novel.
  • When I dream these days, I am always running, and I am wearing a surgical mask.
  • I just want things to stop for a bit… for five days… a week… a small break from this non-stop slog before I go bananas.

Okay, rant over 🙂 Going back to my question in the title of this blog post – “Can a cash reward help lift your spirits?”

It certainly can, I’m not ashamed to admit. The power of that green can give quite a lift in times of hardship; the prospect of spending, amassing goods, food, paying bills.

I’ve never had much money in life, but I’ve always felt wealthy when it comes to the art and mind – creativity, spiritualty, words and paint and music – that’s me – yet, the arts don’t always pay the bills nor fill up your stomach, do they?

So, when my employer announced, at about the same time as the French government announced the very same, that health care workers in the sector for nursing and retirement homes are to receive a bonus payment for our efforts during the pandemic (in line with hospitals), my spirits lifted in almost the same way as if I had written a stunning personal poem or short story, made a cool drawing or painting, or jammed with fellow musicians in a garage.

TVTA Animal Crossing New Leaf alt-reality Editor and Wooof get spiritually lifted! Yarr!

Sad, in a way, that I can equate the bliss of artistic endeavours with the gain of some hard cash. But honestly, right now I don’t care… fuck you Covid-19, I could really use a lift, as could my colleagues who are knackered too.

We want ze money, Lewbowski!

Ja, fed up of swimming with sharks and jellyfish – just give us ze money!

Honestly, I don’t even know how much these cash rewards will amount to in total … one of them is a thousand euros, I know that for sure. Cool. And what will I spend my riches on? I may upgrade my bicycle. I might buy extra pizza, beer. Treat family members to nice gifts once the lockdown starts to lift and shops and restos open. I certainly need a new pair of trainers. But what I need most of all is a week off work and not having to wear that mask!

Report – 10 May, 2020

Testing, testing…

I took my second Covid-19 test last week. Chose a different nostril than last time. Wished I’d stuck with the other, as it didn’t sting or make my eyes water last time. I’m assuming my test is negative as I haven’t heard the dreaded news to the contrary from my employer, and will wait for confirmation when I’m in tomorrow.

Tomorrow is 11 May!

11. May – the much-talked-about date in France when lockdown restrictions begin to slowly lift. Since 17 March we’ve pretty much been in as strict a lockdown as you could imagine. Now, some pre and elementary schools will reopen, some businesses too, with the return to some kind of normal made in staggered steps.

TV Series and gaming lockdown decompression

Talking of staggered steps… I finished watching The Walking Dead seasons which I missed seeing when they first came out. So interesting watching certain characters making their debut – as was the evolution of others.

Bella ciao! 

I’m now watching La Casa de Papel – season 3 – just awesome! Thanks to WordPress good buddy inSPIRAtion for pointing me in the right direction there, cheers mate 🙂

All being well, I might have a fun La Casa de Papel blog post coming soon:)

La Casa de Papel. Image credit: Netflix.

Turning over a New (old) Leaf …

And for any readers wondering what the low-res comical screen grabs are scattered about this blog post – I’ve been amusing myself with Animal Crossing New Leaf on the Nintendo 3DS. Old school now I know. My youngest has New Horizons and it wipes the floor with New Leaf. But, I’m charmed by New Leaf. It’s the perfect and gentle distraction for pandemic times (no virus, no lockdown, and you can go shopping!).

That’s all for now, vintage mates! Stay safe and healthy everyone 🙂


Disclaimer. This report is meant to offer an overview of the fluid impact upon a care worker in the French medical system. No names of any persons or institutions are given, and the reportage here concerns decisions made at a French national level which is available to the public at any time. No breach of confidentiality or professional workplace standards is made or implied. Any health advice stated here is exactly the same as that given by the World Health Organization public advice pages 


 

The Pandemic and I (9) – Concert venue hospital, video games, and getting tested for Covid-19

In the British news I saw an article on the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. Memories came back…


When I lived in England, I went to music shows and a WWE WrestleMania at the NEC. I always thought it was a good venue. Now, during the pandemic, the venue is to act as a temporary Covid-19 treatment hospital.

How the pandemic changes things… instead of entertainment fans, NEC visitors might now be emergency patients. Instead of artists and crew, NEC workers might be doctors, nurses, carers…

Bravo the NEC (if it’s possible to congratulate a building?). Let’s hope it doesn’t come to patients being admitted, and that the numbers – not just in the UK but everywhere – of those requiring hospital care fall instead of rise.

Britain’s Prince William speaks via videolink as he officially opens the NHS Nightingale Hospital Birmingham, built in the National Exhibition Centre on April 16, 2020. Photograph: Reuters. Image link: The Guardian International.

Testing, testing…

Luke Sywalker’s Headset. 1978.

For our team at work, last week was one of certain anxiety… our residents took the Covid-19 virus test, and we had to wait for the staggered results to come in. I’m very pleased to report that each one tested negative 🙂 Good. Considering most French residential and nursing homes are infected, we remain in excellent shape right now. Good protocols. Decent equipment. Diligent staff. Luck? The battle continues!

After the residents had been tested, it was the turn of the staff.

Let’s be honest, everyone at work was dreading having to take it. You had to fill in health forms. Then a nose swab taken by a nurse suited and booted up in full PPE. 30 seconds or so of swabbing. Not too uncomfortable, but it made your eyes water. And that was it. Then it was the wait… 3 days…

My result – negative. And the results of the rest of the team – negative!

A huge relief. If only temporary. And not to let our guard down in the slightest!

Chewbacca bandolier offer variation. 2000 AD Prog 337 1983. UK.

Question:

Anyone playing video games during lockdown? 

Grandstand Pocket Scramble and Pocket Pac-Man. 1983. UK.

Atari Centipede. 1983. UK.

Mario Tennis Aces. France. 2018.

The Simpsons Game. UK. 2007.

Death Star Battle video game. US. 1983.

Or how about Top Trumps!

Waddingtons Top Trumps. 1983. UK.

I found some time to play Animal Crossing: New Leaf. It’s actually a really nice distraction – world building in an environment that isn’t in lockdown and pandemic 🙂 My youngest has the New Horizons version, and it makes New Leaf already look like the vintage it’s slowly becoming.

Coming soon…

You may have noticed this post has a slight Star Wars theme running through it?

A clue? Next post is all about a collection I finally finished after starting it way back in 1996…

teaser pics


MTFBWY! Stay safe and healthy everyone 🙂


Disclaimer. This report is meant to offer an overview of the fluid impact upon a care worker in the French medical system. No names of any persons or institutions are given, and the reportage here concerns decisions made at a French national level which is available to the public at any time. No breach of confidentiality or professional workplace standards is made or implied. Any health advice stated here is exactly the same as that given by the World Health Organization public advice pages